8 Essential Tips for Marketing Your Book on Facebook

natashacrain (1)Guest Blogger: Natasha Crain (www.christianmomthoughts.com)

We all know Facebook is the largest social media network in the world. Our intuition tells us it can be a powerful tool for book marketing, but how do you use it effectively?

In a word, it all starts with fans. The more fans you have, the more effective Facebook will be for you and your book.

The best way to get more Facebook fans is to use Facebook effectively to build relationships with the ones you have.

Facebook is a bit of a game. You have to understand the underlying rules to win, but the rules aren’t obvious. Here are 8 things you need to know.

1.    If you’re serious about building a platform using Facebook, you need a fan page – NOT a personal page.

Personal pages and fan pages function very differently. A fan page offers a one-way relationship between you and the fan; fans see your updates, but you don’t see theirs. A person only needs to click “like” to immediately become your fan. With a personal page, a potential fan has to send you a friend request, which is an intimidating barrier for people who don’t actually know you. Even more importantly, personal pages have a friend limit and only fan pages give you data on how fans are interacting with your posts. That data is the key to your success – read on.

2.    Any given Facebook post will only reach a small percent of your fans.

Fans are people who clicked “like” on your page, so Facebook will make sure they see your updates, right? Unfortunately, no.

Facebook has become so popular that it had to develop an algorithm to prioritize the flood of posts available for a person’s news feed each day. Say, for example, that one of your fans is a fan of 100 other pages and has 400 personal friends. All of those pages and friends represent hundreds of possible messages going to that person’s news feed. Only a few of those messages will be shown. Your new fan may actually never hear from you again, depending on whether or not you understand number 3…

3.    Likes, comments and shares mean almost everything on Facebook.

Facebook chooses what to show and in what order based on which friends and/or pages a person engaged with in the past. “Engaged with” means the person clicked, liked, shared or commented on a post.

If a fan doesn’t take one of those actions on your posts regularly, the algorithm will decide they aren’t really a fan, and that person will rarely, if ever, see your content again. You could have 10,000 fans but literally be talking to a near-empty room if Facebook is methodically removing your posts from their feeds due to lack of engagement. That means you should write every post in a way that facilitates likes, comments, or shares.

4.    Small tactics can make a big difference in driving engagement.

Here are some tips for encouraging those golden mouse clicks:

  • Experiment with post timing. The average post is only shown in feeds for about 3 hours. If most of your fans are on Facebook in the evening but you always post in the morning, they’ll never see you.
  • Be concise. Studies have shown that posts between 100 and 250 characters (less than 3 lines of text) receive about 60% more likes, comments, and shares than posts greater than 250 characters.
  • Use different types of posts. Some fans click mostly on links, others engage mostly with questions, and some click mostly on photos. To maximize the number of fans who engage with you, use a variety of post types.
  • Be careful about using third-party apps (e.g., HootSuite) to publish posts. Studies have shown that, for many reasons, these posts tend to get significantly less engagement. It’s best to post directly on Facebook

5.    You can get around the “rules” by paying to promote individual posts.

Under each of your Facebook posts, there is a button that says “Promote.” For a relatively small amount of money, you can get more of your fans to see specific posts. The cost depends on your particular fan base, but typically runs around $5 per thousand people you want to reach. You can also promote your post so it will be seen by friends of your fans.

Paid promotion is a great tool for getting important posts in front of as many people as possible. It’s also a great way to get back into the feeds of people you’ve lost due to lack of engagement in the past; if a person engages with a paid post, they’ll be more likely to see your future unpaid posts. Paid posts give you a chance to win fans back!

6.    Fans are unequal in value.

If you want to build relationships with potential readers of your book, your fans should be part of your book’s target audience. Asking your aunt’s friends and your spouse’s coworkers to “like” your page so you can build your fan number does nothing for building a true audience. Those people aren’t likely to engage with your Facebook content and the lack of engagement will negatively impact how many of your real fans see your posts.

7.    You will lose fans (and that’s OK).

It’s as easy for fans to click “unlike” on your page as it was for them to click “like” in the first place. It’s estimated that the average annual fan attrition rate for a page is 5%. Fans who leave most likely weren’t engaging with your content, so it’s actually better for you that they go (see number 3)!

8.    You shouldn’t depend solely on Facebook or any other social media site for your reader connections.

If this all sounds complicated, you’re right! Companies now hire full-time social media experts just to maximize their opportunity to get into the news feeds of fans they already have. We tend to think of growing our fan count as a number-building problem, but the challenge extends to getting in front of fans once you have them.

Bonus Tip: Whether your connections are through Facebook, Twitter, or any other site, do yourself a favor: make it very easy for your website visitors to subscribe via email. Your Facebook fans belong to Facebook. Your Twitter followers belong to Twitter. Your email list belongs to you.

Were you aware of these Facebook “rules”? What does this help explain from your own experience?

***

Natasha Crain is the Vice President of Marketing for a Los Angeles-based media company and a married mom of three young children. She writes about intentional Christian parenting at christianmomthoughts.com, a blog visited by more than 23,000 people last year.

Email: Natasha@christianmomthoughts.com

Blog: www.christianmomthoughts.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/christianmomthoughts

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Comment

47 thoughts on “8 Essential Tips for Marketing Your Book on Facebook

  1. Thank you so much Natasha! I think you have convinced me at last to start a “fan” page–though the term is horrid to me. And really helpful about the use of various types of posts and promoting posts. I thought it would be much more expensive.

    You end by saying “your email list belongs to you.” Any tips on using that email list? I’ve been surprised to find that people who read my book and tracked down my email address seem only to want to send one message rather than wanting a conversation. I write back and… Most let it drop.

    • Hi Gary,

      I’m happy to hear that you are planning to make the leap to a fan page! I had you in mind with that point number 1. :) I agree that the term is uncomfortable, but really people just think of “fan pages” as public pages that function in the way I described. You can have a public page for anything and it doesn’t imply you think you are a celebrity.

      Just so you know, there are ways to convert your personal page to a fan page directly, but then you have no personal page. Unless you truly don’t need/want to use Facebook personally, I would start a new page. I see you have 500+ email subscribers – that’s a great place to start grabbing fans. Write a blog post to let people know of your new page (with a link) and ask them to go “like” it (i.e., become a fan). Since your blog posts get automatically emailed to your readers, it’s an easy way to announce the page to many at once.

      Good question on the email list. Let me clarify. I don’t mean necessarily that you should be using it to converse with individuals, though of course you can.

      Facebook is an incredible tool for building relationships with your “fans”. It makes it extremely easy for people to click like and then hear from you again (be sure to put a big like box on your site – see my blog for an example). The problem is everything I just talked about in this post. It’s getting harder and harder to get your posts to reach a large percent of your fans. They can literally evaporate in terms of reachability, rendering them a worthless number. So what happens if you prioritize your efforts on getting people to connect with you via Facebook on your site? They take the easy road, which is clicking “like” and don’t trouble themselves to enter their email. Then your relationship becomes at the mercy of Facebook, a platform you have no control over.

      Facebook is changing all the time. In September, most pages experienced a drop in organic (unpaid) reach of 30-50%! I experienced this too. One day your posts are reaching 2,000 people easily, the next day it’s all you can do to hit 800 – all because Facebook “optimized” their algorithm again. That’s 1200 people you aren’t regularly talking to anymore. Overnight. It takes a long time to get 1200 people! Now, a case could be made that if those 1200 were really engaging with your posts all the time, Facebook would still be showing your stuff to them. There is some truth to that for a portion of them, but in my experience it in no way explains the severity of the drop.

      Email subscribers are almost always more serious about you. New visitors to my site who end up subscribing via email spend 12 times the time of other new visitors and visit 3 times the number of pages.

      So, the long story long at this point, is that I’m always much happier when someone chooses to subscribe via email because I can use my email list to get my blog posts out to every single person who signed up. Do they all open every email? Nope. But I feel much better knowing that every single email was delivered. Then it’s their choice to click.

      Some final thoughts on email (this could have been a blog post!):

      1. Placement of your subscribe box on the site makes a difference in getting people to consider it. If you look at my site, I place that box higher than the Facebook box, even though the Facebook box has the “social proof” of 3700 fans. Make it big, bright, whatever. Just make it stand out.

      2. Get a plug in that puts a sign up box at the bottom of every post also (look at the bottom of one of my posts – it says, “Did you enjoy this post? Subscribe to receive new posts via email!). This is often more effective because if the reader did just like a post, it catches them at a relevant time.

      3. Use a plug in to cut your posts off so you aren’t emailing the whole post. That way people have to click the link to read the rest on your site. When you do this, you are able to know how many people REALLY read each post. The industry average is a 25% open rate and a 3.5% click rate. But if someone can read your whole post in their email, they won’t ever have to click through to your site and you won’t know if anyone is really reading.

      4. In order to really get at these numbers, you should set yourself up with a 3rd party email provider. I use Mail Chimp. It’s easy to move your FeedBurner subscribers over and it’s free to use Mail Chimp under certain subscriber counts. This allows you to set up custom email templates and have full trackability…you will know what every single subscriber did with every single email you sent (Who opened? Who clicked? Who never opens or clicks?). This might sound hard, but it’s not, and it’s hugely important.

      I will stop now. :)

      • One thing about Mail Chimp to add – the email list is still yours; you can move it around to other providers however you want. It’s not like they own your email list like Facebook owns your fans.

        • Great info, Natasha! I think I’m going to have to sign up for Mail Chimp.

          I’m an example of a person who transferred his personal FB page to a fan page. It worked seamlessly, but I did not realize i would be without a personal page. Kind of annoying. I still plan to start a personal page someday, but I haven’t yet. Still, if i had it to do over, i would probably do the same thing because i had 1600 “friends,” which is to say most of them weren’t really friends. It would have taken a lot longer to pare down the list. In your case, Gary, one way or another it’s advisable to have a fan page. You just have to decide whether to start fresh with a fan page or transfer all your friends into fandom and then start a personal page fresh.

          • Great point – it has to be a cost/benefit analysis of how many “fans” are currently your “friends”. If you haven’t built up many fans yet, start a new page; if you have, like Chad had, convert and then start a new page eventually for friends.

          • If you have any questions when you get going with Mail Chimp, feel free to shoot me an email. After you get your subscribers imported, you’ll need to set up an “RSS to email” campaign.

  2. Very helpful Natasha! They say you learn something new every day…. well, you fulfilled that for me today, and the day is just beginning!

  3. This was more helpful to me than the Facebook FAQ when I created the page and looked into the pay promotions. Thank you! I am especially interested in the content about the newsfeed display algorithms.

  4. Natasha, great info! Thank you for sharing–your desire to help and teach is clearly evident.

    I went to an “author page” not too long after creating a personal profile. A page has allowed me to connect with like-minded folks and make new friends while keeping my private life separate (like on my personal profile). I’m very much a Mama Bear and prefer not to share my family’s pics all over the internet. I’ve lost a few fans (as you said, this happens) because they “didn’t realize I was a Christian.” Hmmm…

    And when FB switched their game (when they started limiting who sees our posts) that was not surprising, but annoying. Something in me still resists “paying” them to promote my posts, but we shall see.

    I do vary content and types of posts, and I have noticed like you indicated, my “view” numbers go up dramatically when posting questions and photos. Folks are visual creatures–we love photos!

    Have a super weekend!

    • Thanks, Cynthia! I agree – it’s not surprising that this is happening on Facebook. It’s hard to blame them, as they are trying to make the best user experience possible by prioritizing the news feed based on what they think is most relevant. Any kind of algorithm will have its limitations. But the recent changes certainly haven’t favored fan pages. Users can still choose to get notifications from pages when there is a new post, but it’s a rare person who takes the time to do that.

      I *hate* having to pay to promote posts now, but I do it strategically. As in $5 per week. Whenever I publish a blog post (usually just 1-2 per week), I insist on getting at least 1,000 of my fans to see it. An arbitrary number, but one that makes me feel better! I’ve noticed that if I promote a post from the second I publish it, I end up spending more (I think Facebook shows it to fewer people organically that way, but they say this isn’t the case). So, I wait to see how many people see it unpaid and when it hits the wall after about 3 hours, I kick in the paid promotion to get up to my target. With just a couple of blog posts per week, it’s like a $5 investment. On the non-blog Facebook posts, I don’t bother to promote. I’m using Facebook as a means to get people to my blog first and foremost, so the links to my blog posts are what I spend the promotional dollars on.

      • More awesome info! You’re the Facebook Ninja, Natasha! Heeeeeeey . . . new blog? (Just kidding.) But you probably could do a self-published ebook on the topic. Just thinking out loud…

        • lol! A client called me a Facebook Yoda the other day…I need a new avatar. :)

          As for an ebook: I do all this marketing stuff professionally, but my heart lies in wanting to write (traditionally published) books that change how Christian parents look at their role in faith development; books that are part of the continued conversation of Barna’s “Revolutionary Parenting” and Kinnaman’s “You Lost Me” (I love the Barna Group!). 60% of kids are leaving their faith/religion – parents need to get serious about what it means today to raise a Christian family. Outsourcing kids’ faith development by simply dragging them to church each Sunday isn’t cutting it, nor should it. Yet that’s what the vast majority of Christian parents are doing. This is the whole reason I blog – to get parents thinking more deeply about the meaning of a “Christ-centered home.”

          Soooo…while I do love social media, I need to spend my writing time to draft a proposal on my Christian parenting concept…which brings me back to your awesome blog series! I look forward to every post!

          • Natasha, have you ever heard of the Valugenesis studies from La Sierra University? They’ve been studying youth and what makes them stay or leave the church for 30 years. Pretty amazing stuff.

  5. Thanks Natasha for some really illuminating thoughts. It looks like I am wasting time on my personal page and not doing anything with what I thought might be my fan page. I’m confused about how the two are connected. Should they be connected, or should I start one with no connection? Is that even possible?
    When I started what I thought might be my fan page I was mainly concerned about creating interest in my country books. Thus I titled the page Country Inspiration. I’ve been thinking of dropping that page and starting another for my suspense novels, of which I have a new one to coming out. But before I do that I need to be clear on the purpose, connection to my personal page, and the amount of posting I need to do.
    I find myself overwhelmed with the amount of time needing to be spent on social media. Is it even possible for a writing to keep up?

    • Hi Eric, I’m glad this was helpful!

      From an administrative perspective, your fan page and personal page are connected as far as Facebook is concerned (when you are logged in, you can access both – it knows you are the same person behind the pages). But from a user perspective, there isn’t any connection. Unless you are telling people where to find your personal page, the fan page stands alone. So yes, start a new fan page from scratch. As I mentioned in a prior comment, you can convert a personal page into a fan page, but that would only be if you don’t want to have a personal (private) page for friends and family anymore. Your new fan page should be devoted exclusively to you in a writing capacity.

      As far as suspense vs. country inspiration, are your suspense novels country-related? If the target audience is different, then you would want two different pages. Say you have 1000 fans and 500 are fans of country inspiration and 500 are fans of suspense. Every post would be ignored by half of your fans, so your engagement would always be half of what it would otherwise be (Facebook looks at this in terms of percentage of fans engaging). Plus, people will unlike your page if half the content is irrelevant to them. Only if the target audience is the same or very similar should you have a single page.

      As for amount of posting, that’s terribly tough to answer. There is a perfect equilibrium that exists in the world between what you are capable of doing time-wise and how much your fans want to hear from you. It’s just hard to know what it is. A person might be able to post 8 times per day but the fans may have no interest in hearing from the page that often. Another person might only post 3 times per week and get huge engagement each time because it happens more rarely. That said, you have to remember that the average post goes into feeds for 3 hours. If you only post once per week, you’ll only hit the small percent of your fans who happen to be on Facebook during that little window. If your fans are on Facebook a lot, you might be able to hit many of them since they are there at any given time. But if your fans tend to check in every few days, they’ll probably never see you.

      Post often enough that people will regularly hear from you and that you have something interesting to say, but not so often that you are annoying people or that you are driving yourself crazy. Set a goal for how many of your fans you want to reach weekly and then post enough that you hit them (your Facebook Insights data will tell you your reach). Use paid posts as needed.

      I hope that helps!

  6. Natasha, every time I read something you’ve written…about anything…I learn something new. You’re awesome, girl! :) Now I’m off to find a plugin for the sign up for my blog via email box. I’ve been manually typing it in and its getting old. Lol!

    • You’re too kind, Rosann! Thanks so much for the comment. There are all kinds of plugins for that. I use one called Optin Skin. I had to buy it, but it’s worth it if you want to get fancy. I have NOT gotten fancy with all its capabilities yet so for what I’m doing, I could have used a free one. The best of intentions…:)

  7. Hi Natasha,
    Great post!
    Two questions re: Feedburner
    – any indication when/if Google is going to kill it? (Some features for developers and high-end types were eliminated in October. But my email and RSS subscribers are still receiving my blog posts. I use Blogger)
    – Is there anyway to convert RSS subscribers to a Feedburner alternative, such as Mailchimp? (or will I have to suggest they sign up by email before it’s too late?)

    Thanks!

    • Hi Randy, Thanks!

      1) I don’t know if/when Google will kill it. No inside knowledge on that. :)

      2) You can’t convert RSS subscribers who haven’t signed up for your emails. Only if you have offered the feedburner email service, where they have provided their email address to receive the feed, can you transfer them to Mail Chimp. If you do have that, then yes you can move them. You can export them to CSV from feedburner, then import into Mail Chimp.

      I hope that helps!

  8. Thanks so much for the helpful post, Natasha (and Chad!). I have a fan page on Facebook and am considering paying actual real-life-money to promote my book launch in March. What do you think is more effective – Facebook ads or promoting posts to your fans?

    • Hi Regina, Great question! These are really two different things. When you promote a post to your fans, the most you will reach is the number of fans you have (plus any shares you get from them). If you have 1600 fans, you’ll probably only pay around $10 for that post to reach them. Say you plan to try to hit them all 5 times with the launch announcement (arbitrary number – up to you). You’re talking about $50 in advertising. You should do this no matter what – a small investment to make sure your fans all know about and want to buy your book!

      From that perspective, I would say that the only question should be if you want to add Facebook ads. There are two approaches with the ads. 1) You can have people land on your Facebook page, hoping they will become a fan, then they’ll see your promotional posts and hopefully buy the book. Or 2) You can design a landing page on your website that is specific to your book with a call to action for buying it and/or becoming a fan. Designing a page obviously takes more time and effort, but more directly encourages the buy.

      Facebook ads are amazingly targeted. Since you write Christian fiction, you can target people who have indicated on Facebook they like specific Christian fiction writers…a perfectly matched audience! You can specify age range, marital status, education – anything you think makes someone more likely to purchase a book. You can also run multiple ads up to compare effectiveness (e.g., the percent of people clicking through each and becoming a fan). You set the budget and can start/stop at any time. I definitely recommend using cost per click so you’re only paying for people who click the ad (as opposed to paying for impressions, which just means people saw the ad).

      That’s a little brain dump on it, though there is much more that could be said. I hope that clarifies! If not, let me know. Thanks!